It’s a fairly common theme in serial fiction–taking a villainous (or at least unsavory) character and turning them into a hero. Redemption is one of the two overreaching themes of Xena: Warrior Princess, for instance, and it became a significant theme for NYPD Blue as well. Sometimes it’s done very well, sometimes very poorly; what instances stand out in your mind, Dopers?
Ohh, goody, I get Spike. From a Sid Vicious wannabe to the Biggest Bad of season…uh…two? to neutered puppy dog finally to True Knight of the Lady. His death in Buffy was pitch perfect.
Too bad he came back to “life” in Angel. Really cheapened his sacrifice, and much as I love the character and love what he did on Angel (especially his conversation with Angel re: their different motivations for redemption), I think it lessened his redemption. How is destruction the ultimate sacrifice for his Lady Love if he gets mailed back in an envelope? Bad Joss.
Great essay here on how Spike’s story is that of Courtly Love.
Your decision as to whether it’s the best or the worst one, but you did ask what came to mind first.
If you get Spike, I get Angel.
ANGEL: Well, I guess I kinda worked it out. If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. 'cause that’s all there is. What we do, now, today. - I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward, finally just to beat the other guy, but… I never got it.
It took until Season 2’s Epiphany for Angel to realize that it’s the journey, not the destination.
GUNN: (stands) Then let’s make 'em memorable.
SPIKE: In terms of a plan?
ANGEL: We fight.
SPIKE: Bit more specific.
ANGEL: Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let’s go to work.
(Angel & co charge the demon army, weapons swinging. Fade to black)
Angel–or, rather, Angelus–was the big bad of season two, not Spike. Spike was Buffy’s ally in the season finale, for jossake.
In the Buffy Forumla there is always a little bad forthe first hald of the season and then the big bad for the rest of the season… Spike and Dru were the little bad.
I like Spike’s return in Angel and I think they would have gotten into this if it hadn’t been cancelled… What do you do? How do you live? AFTER you’ve lived your life’s purpose?
In comics I liked the Sandman (the spidey villain) redemption. Pretty much all brought abut by having a few beers with the Thing in a bar. They’ve messed with the character way too much in the last few years for my liking but he had a good run as the villain turned hero.
Spike is generally referred to as The Big Bad, often in conjunction with Drusilla and Angelus. One source. Another source. Here, have one more. Ohh, Google makes this easy! At various points, Kennedy, Xander and Spike himself refer to him mockingly as “The Big Bad”, indicating that he once was, but ain’t no more.
Babylon 5 had two: G’Kar, who started out as a bluff and crude and eventually became almost saintly, and Londo, who was a nice, drinking buddy type, who evolved into a villain, and then realized his own evil and greed and repented of it.
Casablanca’s Richard Blaine is a good one. From frozen cynical mercenary to supporting the Allies and giving up the girl he loves. You can pinpoint the second of his redemption: When Lazlo tells the band to play “Les Marsilles,” the band leader looks at Rick. He hesitates and then nods.
Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring/The Two Towers.
Gulliver Foyle in The Stars my Destination .